I am in favor of EU receiving war refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. These people are victims of horrible wars and war crimes, some partly perpetrated by EU and USA. But with a small caveat. What I do want is that these refugees realize what religious extremism in the form of Islamic State and the Taliban and others has done to their native countries and embrace the secular culture of Europe. A Europe in which religion is a choice of some, separate from education, where atheists/agnostics make the majority of the population, where freedom of expression and gender equality are the norm and where sexual orientation is free for everyone to express. We can’t have refugees in Europe who are in favor of denying education to girls or would want to kill homosexuals, or want to kill a woman because she had sex before getting married, or because she had sex with another woman, or a man with a man, or kill somebody because she/he joked about religion, nor any type of honor killing, nor any type of domestic violence, we have to make a clear explanation of our values and laws, anyone who lives in Europe should be explained what is and is not legal over here. Moreover I hope that those who are antisemitic, leave their anti semitic views behind. I speak from experience, I was in Syria in 2004 and was detained on suspicion of being Jewish and had to lie my way out of detention denying I was Jewish something I was very ashamed to do, but had no choice. I think we could make refugees understand this in writing what Europe stands for. We should have them sign a commitment to the democratic values of Europe as part of their acceptance procedure. Europe is freedom, if you love freedom, you are welcome!
Science is used in high schools around the world to rank students. This is especially true in Europe and Asia. But most students score poorly in math, physics, chemistry, biology and as a result see their career choices erode. In my view, science should be taught pass or fail with many quizzes along the way to see if students learned, but not to define future paths. I believe if science was taught this way, if science was not used to curve students, many more people, as adults would like science. Scientists are surprised at how many adults believe in unproven theories such as previous lives, homeopathy, ghosts, vaccines causing autism, mobile phones causing cancer, genetically modified food killing us. For politicians funding science is less and less popular. Government funding for theoretical physics for example, is at an all time low. But if you think about it the general public mistrust of science makes sense. Why would people believe in science if science treated them like idiots. If science was used to block their opportunities. If science didn’t believe in them.
How can Germans be so generous vis a vis taking refugees in Europe? Germany will probably take around a million refugees, especially Syrians. Syrians, people who mostly speak no German, and whose culture is so different. People who have never lived in a democracy and who are absolutely destitute and desperate. Taking one million refugees is like taking one million unemployed people who are not educated in your country and whose skills most likely do not match those of your labor market. So what could make Germans want to take these refugees? Because from what I have seen it is not that anyone is putting tremendous pressure on them to take them. It is actually a popular measure in Germany to accept Syrian refugees. This while British and others are chasing them away and other than the Swedes, nobody else wants them. So here’s my theory.
I am not German but my qualifications are having a German family, many German friends and being on two German company boards, Axel Springer and Arago.
The Holocaust is a horrible trauma for the current generation of German leaders. Just like the current leadership of Israel is horrified by the fact that Jews did not violently fight their way out of the Holocaust and as a result are unreasonably violent as soon as they are attacked by Hamas or Hezbollah, the German leadership is also inspired by the Holocaust but in the exact opposite way. Germans react with extraordinary kindness. How could our parents and grandparents massively kill innocent people, mostly Jews, by the millions, they wonder. It is not only Jews, the victims, who are traumatized by the Holocaust, Germans are as well! For Germans today it is impossible to understand how their ancestors could have perpetrated the Holocaust. Given this situation, I think that in the German psyche, when they read about IS and their behavior they immediately relate IS to the Nazi party. And this is not far fetched, IS is so brutal, dictatorial, that it is like a Nazi version of Islam. So paradoxically for them, and forgetting how many Syrians feel about the Jews, (I know, I went to Syria and was arrested on suspicion of being Jewish and had to lie my way out of detention), for many in Germany, the Syrians are the “new Jews”. And they have more sympathy for their plight than other European nations. This time they will save them from their Holocaust. The current generation of Germans grew up sympathizing with victims, so with Syrian people they are given an opportunity to stop the massive killing of innocents and they are taking it. And while this decision will undoubtedly cause problems, because Germans are true romantics (I know I am married to one), they are going for this without thinking much about the pros and cons. They are driven by emotions more than by reason. Sort of how they took East Germany and gave them a 1 to 1 conversion, a move that depressed the German economy for a decade, and yet nobody regretted. Now paradoxically, the East Germans, who have benefited from West German generosity themselves, are the ones who are rejecting the refugees. It’s the “I am in, now close the door syndrome.” But some East Germans aside, I like to see a powerful nation that is sensitive to the sorrows of others. And while from a policy point of view it’s an invitation to tension, I still admire Germany for taking those refugees. And what’s more, I think that in the end, kindness will work. Germany has very low unemployment and an incredibly low birth rate. Education is free in Germany and young people can learn. I am optimistic that Germany will both help and in the end prosper as a result of their decision.